tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg May 3, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
he was this country's ambassador to the united states. he has met with john kerry, chuck hagel, and susan rice. he seeks to repair the egyptian american alliance and has gone adrift in the past few years. it comes less than two months after the army chief declared his intent to restore order. i am pleased to welcome nabil fahmy back to this table. >> i'm happy to be here. >> what have you accomplished? >> i came here to do two things, one is to try to redirect our relations toward building a better future together.
because these are indispensable relations for us and our goals and objectives. i believe they are indispensable for the u.s. and your interest in the middle east. the transformations of egypt will be up and down. the ups are higher than the downs. needs to be explained face to face. i felt it was important occasions like this program to come out for the people and talk to you directly and to get a sense of whether you are sincere or not. i went all over washington.
i also heard a wide-ranging level of support and desire from americans that we succeed. so i think it was useful. and i will always recommend to egyptian to repeatedly come to washington to engage the administration, the congress, media and civil society. >> wit is the status of the u.s. to egypt? >> u.s. aid is that the levels it has been in the past the projection for next year is the same. there was a freeze on the delivery and that has been removed. >> it will be delivered soon? >> yes. there was a release of 650 million dollars to pay military contracts here for equipment that is going to be delivered in egypt in implementation of the 2014 budget. i still believe that is on track as well. the there is the other half of the budget, over bit over 700
million, that remains frozen waiting for certification from secretary john kerry. >> there is much to talk about. you mentioned ups and downs. how would you define the ups and downs? >> what i'm talking about is ups and downs in egypt. but we start with something that you know because you interviewed most of them. from 1952, you are that old, in 1952 -- >> i was alive in 1952. >> 50 years. you have had four presidents.
from 2011 to the end of may, we have had four presidents in egypt. that is one indication of the amount of change that is occurring. society is trying to find its political identity. where the flag is the basis and then you have the secularists and the islamists, provided there is a flag first and then there are politics. and that they all agree others are on the flag as well. so we will have an election for president in may and then for parliament by the end of summer. as we do that, society has to breathe pluralism. we are searching for pluralistic ethics.
we have been good at revolutions recently, but we have not done the evolutionary process. we will stumble. we issued a demonstration, the president threw it back at us. we corrected it. the public debated us. we corrected it and then we issued it. some people don't like it anyway. how do demonstrators decide you can demonstrate all the want but you need to allow others to gone with their day-to-day lives? they have to define how to do that. and how does the police, you can control demonstrators. it has to be proportionate. all of these are new capacities. the same applies to the administration with the government. civil society has to understand you have to be idealistic, which you have to be practical.
the same of another example of one of your friends who participated, we put together an excellent constitution. extremely liberal on civil liberties. it has been applauded all over the world. that said, once we have parliament, we are going to have to change some of our laws and add new laws and have political debate. >> at the core of the protest from washington and in the editorial pages, who write about foreign policy is the fact there seems to be a needless crackdown on the muslim brotherhood with trials and death sentences of over 500 million.
>> let me start by responding on whether it is true or not and then necessary or too far. five months after the revolution in 2013, the muslim brotherhood was not considered to be a terrorist organization. we reached out to find somebody who would be ready to engage in in a nonviolent fashion. five months. >> five months after the revolution. >> after june 30. when the people overthrew mohamed morsi. five months up until late november. they were not considered to be a terrorist organization. we tried everything we could. all we saw was increased violence. pressure was put by the public opinion on the government. you can't allow violence. it is not an egyptian novelty. you have it in spain, ireland, italy.
that is the first point. the response here is to violence, primarily. secondly, what is declared terrorist is the organization itself. our president has said according to our constitution and egyptian who is not found guilty of a crime and is ready to work according to the constitution has a role in politics. that has not been taken away. no egyptian, and islamist, and not the only one, the brotherhood, or someone like me who is more toward the secularist, if i decide i'm not going to work behind the
constitution or i want to be violent, i don't have a role in politics. we have a challenge to come together. i don't really believe the government is reacting to a political issue. it is reacting to violence. >> you really believe that? this extreme measure of taking that step, sentencing people to death, is the best way to get egypt safe and on the right track to democracy? >> that is the second point. first of all, we have no authority on the courts. >> "we" being? >> the government. they decide from a to z. let me clarify something, what happened in one of the cases, the judge asked the senior clergy, can i apply the death sentence to these 520 people? it only applies to 140.
a large number. you can only apply it to those who are directly incriminated in the act of murder. and the judge then only found guilty 37 of them. immediately, the day after that happened, the attorney general who had sent the case to the court said i have problems with due process. i'm appealing the case. the same office that sent the case to the court said they were not comfortable with due process and therefore they are challenging. the accused did not challenge. the attorney general. they will have the appeal process.
there was murder -- >> the prosecutor says i'm not happy with the sentence. >> he said i'm not happy with due process. the defendants were not given due process. i have a problem with the verdict. i'm going to appeal. the example is it may end up with 10, 5 or less, i don't know the numbers. the only point where the organ can intervene is after the appeal process is complete. >> this sounds legalistic to me, but if you need to stabilize egypt, if you need to get on the road to recovery across the board, it seems like such a counter constructive way to go.
across the world, people are saying, this did not even happen under mubarak. >> you bring an entry point to take the discussion to a higher level. what i explained was the fact on one case just to show there is a review process. >> do you think it is likely they will overturn these sentences? >> they already have. from 520 to 37. now they are looking at the rest. don't forget these people were accused of killing people. there was evidence of that. >> every one of them? for the prosecutor to be concerned about due process,
this is remarkable. >> why? >> with so much at stake in terms of rebuilding, even after the april 6 movement, which we thought they were the good guys. >> i will get to that. >> is part of what you are doing here with the president, the secretary of state, trying to explain to them exactly what you are trying to explain to me so they understand? >> i feel the concerned and i follow it. i am not questioning it is out there. what i'm trying to do is explain the facts and that there is a process to review what we do as we do it while respecting the independence of our branches. we cannot interfere in the judiciary until it finishes this
process without destroying a tenant of a democracy, the independence of the judiciary. the president can decide whether to give clemency. >> he will have an opportunity if the appeal process does not change the verdict. >> the judiciary will correct itself if it is not comfortable. the other question -- our next president is going to face a complex task. we are going through the transformation process and we will always have ups and downs. he's going to have to ensure security. there is no way we can create an economy without dealing with security. you can't deal with security. >> that is what people say. because of security. that is the reason we have to have martial law. that is why we have to set up
these kinds of -- >> i never said that. i said you have to have three challenges. i did not say only in that order. >> my sense is we understand what we have been going through. we understand how this looks, but you have to understand we are trying to create a new egypt and maybe the judiciary went too far, that there is a process to overturn that. the world has to understand what we are trying to do and we have to take these measures. >> everything except the last sentence which i want to amend. we have to face these challenges. we have to deal with various challenges, including 100 people killed. 60 churches burnt.
>> after the army, in a sense supported what was going on in the street or at least, initiated it, how much dialogue was there with the muslim brotherhood? how much of an effort was made to say egypt is in a tough place. we have to figure out a way in a president has been overthrown. we have to create a dialogue because you represent a significant portion of the population in this country. 20%? >> probably less. >> did that happen? or did you say you guys are criminals. you have committed these crimes. we are going to bring you to court. after a couple of days, you know, we're going to declare our verdict. >> it was the exact opposite. >> on both cases? >> in 2011, after hosni mubarak was removed. they engaged with the brotherhood in how to move forward and they called for elections before establishing the constitution. which was a mistake. the muslim brotherhood won the majority.
president morsi was elected. he was in office one year. very few months after in office, he decided to a declaration he was above the law. people told him to call for early elections. you can't exclude other members of our society. so the debate and the opportunity of the brotherhood was given to them openly even before anybody else in 2011. the argument was in 2013. he wanted those to believed, it was about the egyptian identity. it was a quest for defining egyptian identity. identity. >> this is the reason he was overthrown. you thought he was ruling by and he wanted a policy of not of inclusion but exclusion. >> after 2013, yes.
five months, from june until november. they were not considered to be a terrorist organization. individually some of them had and were arrested. >> who decides who is a terrorist organization? >> the government. >> so you decided they were. they were part of the government before. all of a sudden we decide they are a terrorist organization. >> not all of a sudden. with a compendium of violence and court cases that were piling up and rejection of any serious dialogue to move forward. again, charlie, you follow world affairs. again, charlie, you follow world affairs.
what is the red army? what do you consider ira? did we make up this process? you have done it in america. 9/11 was a tragedy. a terrorist attack against civilians. you reacted dealing with this exceptional circumstance. we waited, we waited. i'm telling you again what our president said and what our next president will have to address. i don't think anybody is a shoo-in. the president said if you don't have a crime on your hands, you have a role in politics in the future. >> i read the general is aware
that absolute power corrupts and people around him remind him of that. >> it was my comment. nevertheless the field marshal is going to face a tremendous challenge that once you are civilian president living among civilians like you and me, outside of a paradigm like the military with so many stakeholders, it is a different book. he has strong commitment to egypt and a strategic outlook. he's going to face some very interesting and challenging times. he's going to have to provide security quickly, create political tolerance, started the
economy, and respond to a magnitude of situations on the border. >> that is a lot of what people are saying. the president of the united states said we have to be careful aiding and abetting actions that run contrary to our values and ideals. that is from the president talking about the situation in egypt. >> do not agree with him.
my responsibility, my commitment, which is consistent with your president's values is to create a democracy for injections. that is my commitment. >> it is up to egyptians to do that. >> we will do our best. let me fall back on something. i lived in new york in the 1960's. you are in the civil rights movement. how long was that after your founding fathers put together your initial document? i'm not asking for that long. this is a transition. it takes time. >> you have made that point. it is not easy to make sure human rights extend to all of your citizens. >> i am committed to doing that. >> i'm sure you've heard this from john kerry, genuine concerned about what is going on. i hear what you are saying. people questioned due process. they are waiting for the right of appeal, which is underway. what is egypt becoming? what is it you want to become? how will the new egypt be different?
>> great question, as usual. we are a pluralistic society. i want to have pluralistic ethics. that is what i want to be. the more defined, i want a democracy where my children and grandchildren can differ and come out and work together. i don't want a democracy that only reflects my experience. i want to include islamists, and i don't want to be excluded. i want to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and respond to the challenge of having 30% illiteracy in my country. >> 45% of egyptians live on two dollars a day. >> the commitment is there. i would add to that, this is my
burden, as we try to do all of this as egyptians, i have to deal with the regional situation. the western border, the turmoil in libya. the situation in the sudan is problematic. the palestinian conflict. the nightmare in syria. you have sectarianism. all of this. the emergence of terrorism began in the region in high numbers. that is alarming. but i can't simply say it is too difficult. i can't use them, i can't say i have an excuse not to give it the best effort. because i know your system. my approach is if i feel you are not getting the message, i am going to explain it. if you don't want to listen, i
will tell you what i am going to do because i believe we share the common goal at the end of the day. >> this is the largest mass sentencing in egypt's history. >> i assume so. it has not actually happened. they asked for their opinion, can i apply the death sentence to these men? he said only to those incriminated in the act of murder.
>> how many of those have been directly incriminated in the act of murder? >> 37. the attorney general appealed it. so we will see. >> will it be 37? >> i assume so. >> the spiritual leader is accused of murder? >> look, i can't get into the details of the evidence in each of these cases. i don't know. he has been accused of several crimes. we will see what the evidence determines. whether he is the spiritual leader or not, does not give amnesty from the law. it is not a reason. >> and he has a respect in his own community. >> the evidence has to be there. >> he has been to russia to speak with vladimir putin. is that about creating a new relationship? >> i don't want to appear to be pompous, when i was on your
show, i said i'm going to diversify my friends. >> because you don't believe you can depend on the united states? >> no. i believe for egypt to go stronger and better, we need to have more friends. when i went to moscow, before the field marshal, i said in moscow this friendship is not at the expense of america. >> do the americans except that? >> i think so. when you look at military aid, if i decided to buy an f-16, that is a project i think about in terms of what airports i'm going to buy in five years. not 10 years.
if i cannot depend on you 10 years from now, i won't build that airport. i can't look at that airplane. it can't be based in politics of the day. it has to be based on the nature of the relationship. >> we think that vladimir putin will be there in russia and we can depend on here between not sure on the united states? because as you know, there is some effort in the senate to change the amount of aid that goes to egypt. >> what we do with russia does not reflect -- let me restart. he had never stopped buying weapons from russia. you know that. that is the first point. my answer to your question is no.
i'm looking for better opportunities. i'm not looking to replace america with russia. with all due respect, putin will have to prove himself over time to be sustainable partners. >> that goes both ways. >> sure. exactly. we will continue to work on this. if you decide you don't want to help me fight terrorism, what do you think i'm going to do? >> we have to protect our own country and therefore we have to have other people we can look for if america does not want to help us. >> yes, but i do not think it is
as stark as that. we would do what you will do in defending our country. nothing less, nothing more. >> you are getting aid from saudi arabia. financial aid. you said we like the changes we have seen and we will support them. it is fair to say they were very unhappy about what happened to mubarak and the way it was handled by the united states. everybody knows. >> both of these countries are close friends of america as well. they still are friends with america. they have strong relations. so what they are doing, even when they differ on some points, does not mean our corporation with them, is not at the expense of america. >> are you saying to america, trust us? >> yes. >> we know you're upset, but trust us. >> i know you are upset.
some of the information you don't want to digest. >> so you think they don't understand what is going on in egypt? >> i understand that anxiety. i disagree with the narrative. >> there is also someone who had a long meeting. he is now in jail in egypt. >> if he is accused of a crime, you are put in jail. it does not give you immunity to the law. >> was his case raised by anybody in washington? >> not specifically. the real issues where the cases you mentioned.
they were such large in number and so recent. i explained the details were not known. >> did you change your mind? >> they came back and told me, they asked about these questions. they did not know these facts. they wanted to check them. >> that surprises me. >> my point is. we're going to build a better country. the progression will be upwards, and we will stumble on certain things. we are not perfect. we are going to do what we need to do. that is my argument.
i never go around and say it is ideal. if it is ideal, i would be sitting on the beach enjoying myself. >> i have to raise the question of al jazeera, those of us in the world of journalism are concerned about this. >> i appreciate that. accept that. >> our colleagues. >> on that issue, our president sent letters to the families of two of the accused. even though he is a judge, he wanted to assure them there would be due process. he said he could not intervene in the process. let me add a piece of information which is why i love coming on your show. there has not been a single case since then. this case is valid and will be
out with by the course. i have no comment on the substance of it. there is clearly a determination by the government to try to ensure unless there is a direct evidence, try to give them as much space as you can as a government. we issued a statement saying that we guaranteed the security and protection for journalists and we will allow them to do their work. we asked them to go in get your
passes so that when you are pursuing your profession, and you are in the middle of a demonstration, and the policeman addresses you, you have the facts. let's try to do better. i tell you again, if a journalist commits a crime, he does not have immunity. that is why i'm being candid with you. >> many people risk their work life and face these kinds of -- >> i appreciate that. we have bent over backwards to ensure these things don't happen. and that you can work securely and safely. you have to be difficult situations. >> where do you think syria is today? >> it is a political nightmare. it is in no man's land. we can't afford to leave it in no man's land for too long. because the implications --
>> i just talked to the prime minister on friday. it is a huge issue for them. >> for all of us. >> the same thing is true in lebanon. and for the people in syria who are running because they fear -- >> i will discuss it with secretary kerry, ban ki-moon. >> what is the answer? >> it needs a geopolitical solution. >> what would be the dimensions? >> very difficult. it has to include russia and america. it has to include the arab and non-arab parties. that means iran. some of the major players. >> the evolution of policy. >> what is the evolution of policy? we need to find a way to go back with the americans and russians to where they were at the beginning of the process and
find a way for persians and iranians to deal with each other's concerns so we can work on this issue. if we just have a meeting, we just had a meeting. let's talk strategically. what are their interests in the middle east? >> what are russia's interests? >> to work on that. >> assad has consolidated power? >> again -- >> he has made gains.
with the help of hezbollah. >> that is the conventional wisdom of the day. i don't think any buddy has a conclusive force or authority. >> do you fear the groups that have joined the rebels? >> i dread them. >> that they could gain control and make it a safe haven for terrorists? >> that is a part of it. the other part is they would define the state and then it would spill over and i would add seeing a part of it in libya, it does not allow us to sleep at night. >> you're going to mention the april 6 movement in terms of the good guys. why are they under attack? >> the tension on the street has raised questions about the motivation. we have arguments about this every day. we have become a litigious society. people raise it in the courts and then you have this process. courts aside, i concur. the next egyptian president will have to bring people together politically over and above the issue of security. >> what are you worried the most about? >> time. >> you don't have time to do what is necessary. >> i have children and grandchildren. i want to leave them a democratic state. and we don't have that much time to do that. and we also face, as we try to do that, the nonpolitical dimension of our society, people in the street -- you mentioned the poverty issue. i need to grow 10% a year for 10 years. i can't depend on a miracle in the middle east. i can't grow that way without security, without tolerance among egyptians. >> without bringing egypt
together. >> without saying egypt is a good tourist destination. so the whole region is in this. but i come from generation that did not leave the country with a democracy. we have a second chance. i'm not going to miss it. >> and when you ask yourself why we missed it the first time, what is your answer? >> many reasons. initially it was the 1952 revolution. he had a good social contract. things were working well. they did not evolve politically at the same time. it comes to your point, you can't argue tolerance or security, growth without the private sector, the public sector. you need to do them all together. and a question i was asked a while back when i was getting back from washington, we need to have -- she asked me if i could change one provision in the old constitution, what would it the? i said you can't change one provision. you need to change the whole thing. he said i don't want diplomatic language. one provision.
if we have that, every egyptians would have known he has a choice in defining his leader and holding him accountable and every leader would have known he is accountable in four years or eight years, 12 years. that creates a momentum in your system that you know your boss is going to be judged and you will be judged and the guy underneath you will be judged. it creates checks and balances. i am proud of this constitution. >> what does it say on term limits? >> two terms. but it began, read the civil liberties portion. it is astonishing. it is truly astonishing. no difference between any egyptian whatsoever. on any basis. but now is the time to translate that into action and move into pluralistic ethics.
>> is it difficult to make these arguments by what has gone on in egypt today? or do you believe it is as you described it? >> i will never say anything i do not believe in. the point is that i don't argue it is perfect. i don't argue everything is right. all i argue is that we are in track and we want to do this. it takes time.
if you don't want to give me time, we will not succeed, but we will do it anyway. i never said that it is done. there have not been mistakes. >> what makes you confident about the field marshal who those people believe will be elected? the egyptian people seem to be, from a distance, wanting some sense of order and democracy and moving forward. >> first of all, i actually went to the other candidate. said, you have guts. i applaud you. he laughed. i said i said i'm serious. you will probably lose, but i applaud you. egyptians need to see the competition. that is the first point. different credit for participating.
>> he's run before. >> there's no question he is the most popular. no question. i have forked with him in the cabinet. he is serious, he has a focus and he is a detail person. he is nationalistic and he is very proud. all of these are good attributes from seven months of working together. >> how committed is he to democracy? >> he is a strategic thinker. >> he was appointed field marshal by president morsi.
>> on the question which you are asking, the next egyptian president will learn how to be democrat. he has 35% fewer powers because of the constitution. he does not have the authority to establish a government without consulting the prime minister. he is going to learn, whoever it may be. secondly, i look at my kids and my grandchildren, they accept me as a father. they do not accept i have the whole truth and they will not accept it from anybody. it is going to be a challenge for the field marshal, how do
they package those elements? security, the economy, regional volatility, it will be a challenge for anybody. am i confident they will succeed? i am not confident in the short term. i'm confident in the long-term because the checks and balances in the constitution will keep them there. >> you have had wide experience, not only as a diplomat, but also as a politician. you had to suspend that when you became a member of the government. your dad was foreign minister. someone who thought big. >> definitely. someone who thought big and looked down. keep your feet on the ground. there are real issues on the ground. real challenge is day-to-day.
>> and some real threats. >> being a visionary is great. we need direction. you need to deliver the goods. since you mentioned that era, i came to you from dr. kissinger. we reminisced about that. we need a leader. that has vision and has the wisdom to understand this is going to be a democratic process. you're not quite to be the sole leader any longer. >> i'm neither philosopher nor a statesman, but i think there is a sense, we have talked about the future. we have talked about the end. you have to be very wise about making sure you're not simply committed to the idea that the ends justify the means. >> i do not believe that. i do not believe in that. that is the road to authoritarianism. but those who oppose what is happening have to understand violence will never have a role in politics. >> thank you for coming. look forward to coming to cairo.